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I have a .38 Police Positive Colt with 6" barrel that is in good shooter condition. The serial number indicates 1915 DOB. It chambers and will shoot both the .38 Short Colt and .38 S&W. I was told, long ago, that the cartridges were the same but I'm finding there are some differences in the brass diameter and bullet weights/diameter, size. I have not slugged the barrel but it appears a .358 diameter lead bullet will fill the lands & groves nicely. Which round would be less likely to stress the old girl when target shooting or plinking? ;)
 

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I shoot a Banker's Special which is a snub version of your revolver. When using factory loads it prefers the .38 S&W that I've tried over the Remington .38 Short Colt. I hand load and, while I've not slugged the bore, a .358 diameter 158 grain semi-wadcutter over a moderate charge of Unique is quite accurate in this revolver.

The Police Positive family of revolvers are pretty robust and will easily handle any stresses produced by either the .38 Short Colt or .38 S&W rounds. Don't be concerned about favoring one over the other.
 

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If it chambers the .38 S&W it is not chambered for the .38 Colt. The .38 S&W has a larger diameter. The current .38 S&W Special was developed from the .38 Colt not the S&W round. Further confusion comes from Colt's use of the S&W round with the flat tip bullet as the New Police (both .38 and .32). I strongly recommend that you preserve your gun by using the .38 S&W ammo. No, there's not a lot of difference, but there's enough. Around here both .38 S&W brass and ammo is cheap enough to give the gun what it was made for.




I always thought it interesting that the .38 Colt case was the survivor in that caliber (versus the .38 Special) and the .32 S&W case in the .32 caliber (in the .32 H&R and now .327 Federal). While both competed both ultimately had to bow to market forces and accept one of the competitor's designs as dominant for that caliber.

One more note... The Brits prefered the .38 S&W round (and gave it their own moniker) loading it with 200 and then 178 gr. bullets. Some S&W guns made for them during WWII came back and were "rechambered" (the chambers were lengthened) to accept .38 Special ammo. That cartridge produces high enough pressures to split cases in the too large diameter chambers.

I know this is old news to most, but some people haven't gotten the word yet and this is a good time to pass on the info again.
 
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